Zuiderzee Works

The Netherlands are protected from the sea by a series of natural and manmade bulwarks.

Few countries have to contend with water the way the Netherlands does. With 26% of its area and 21% of its population living below sea level, water control is critical. This satellite image shows some of the natural and manmade features that help protect the landscape. The West Frisian Islands, the long spine-like archipelago seen here, form the first barrier. Behind them lies the mudflats of the Wadden Sea, home to countless wetland species. The Wadden Sea is separated from the freshwater Lake Ijssel by the Afsluitdijk, constructed in 1932 to protect the country from rising seas. With the dam in place, the Dutch used wind power to drain the shallow lands behind the dam, reclaiming the polders labeled here. With the islands, mudflats, and lake between urban settlements and the sea, engineers have more options for diverting water and protecting people from disastrous flooding. (Image credit: A. Holmes/NASA’s Ocean Color Web; via NASA Earth Observatory)

One comment
  1. tom

    I remember riding through the polders on a moped for 3 hours with crops of lettuce, beets and potatoes for as far as you can see. more than enough to feed a couple of countries.

    next to the 2 polders you can see there is a planned polder almost as big as the worlds largest flevopolder) that never eventuated because of lack of need and is now a nature reserve (marker lake and marker wadden)

    the constructions in the south (zeeland) to stop the floods are mind boggling in scale. Doors as big as building that are moved up and down.

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